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Navy & Marine Corps Medical News 


Jan 28, 2000 

The Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery distributes Navy 
and Marine Corps Medical News (MEDNEWS) to Sailors and 
Marines, their families, civilian employees and retired Navy 
and Marine Corps families . To achieve maximum medical 
information distribution, your command is highly encouraged 
to distribute MEDNEWS to ALL HANDS electronically and 
include MEDNEWS in command newspapers , newsletters and radio 
and TV news programs. Visit the Navy Medicine web sites at 
ht tp : //navymedicine . med . navy . mil or 
http: //bumed . med . navy .mil/. 

Stories in MEDNEWS use these abbreviations after a Navy 
medical professional ' s name to show affiliation : MC — 
Medical Corps (physician) ; DC — Dental Corps; NC - Nurse 
Corps; MSC - Medical Service Corps (clinicians, researchers 
and administrative managers) . Hospital Corpsmen (HM) and 
Dental Technician (DT) designators are placed in front of 
their names. 


Contents for this week's MEDNEWS: 

Headline: Inhalant abuse may bring last breath 

Headline: Portsmouth iiaproves access to better assist customers 

Headline: Making the rounds while green 

Headline: Getting glasses becomes easier at Bremerton 

Headline: Portsmouth accredited by College of American Pathologists 

Headline: Anthrax question and answer 

Headline TRICARE question and answer 

Headline: Healthwatch: West Point, Colorado walks among best in U.S. 


Headline: Inhalant abuse may bring last breath 

By HMl (FMF) Brian J. Davis, U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa 

OKINAWA, Japan — In an effort to address one of the 
fastest growing drug problems in the United States, Naval 
Hospital Okinawa and the Armed Forces Network Okinawa 
produced a video titled "Last Breath. " The documentary, 
which is slated to air as a special report on the Armed 
Forces Network throughout the Western Pacific, Europe, and 
selected areas in the U.S., provides an unsettling look at 
the allure and popularity of inhalant abuse as well as its 
potentially lethal effects. 

Lt . Cmdr. Chris Ward, NC, and Lt. Cmdr. Craig Mallak, MC, 
led the project that promotes awareness of "huffing, " the 

deadly practice of inhaling fumes from household chemicals 
such as edge dressing, solvents and aerosol room 
deodorizers. After three service member deaths in the 
Western Pacific because of huffing within a one year period, 
Capt. J.W. Sentell, MC, executive officer of U.S. Naval 
Hospital Okinawa decided that Okinawa 's military community 
needed to know more about the dangers of huffing . 

Ward and Mallak led a team of physicians, nurses, 
corpsmen and military public affairs specialists in a six- 
month project to research, write and produce the 
documentary-style video, which was scheduled to air 
worldwide on the Armed Forces Network January 21 . The video 
will also be distributed throughout Okinawa to Department of 
Defense Dependent Schools as well as Navy and Marine Corps 
Commands . 

Narrated by Lt . Cmdr. J.C. Nicholson, MC, the video 
integrates interviews and comments by medical professionals 
with vivid scenes of an inhalant abuser played by Hospital 
Corpsman Charles M. Mahon, on a downward spiral of self- 
destruction — ultimately winding up on an autopsy table. 

"It ' s like playing Russian roulette" , said Hospital 
Corpsman First Class Kennan S. Milch, who is in the video, 
shaking his head as he views Mahon 's "body". Regarding 
the needless deaths of the three service members, he added, 
"They didn't die in battle, they didn't die defending their 
country — they died trying to get high. " 

The American Academy of Pediatrics stresses that the most 
effective way to prevent inhalant abuse is by educating 
parents, teachers and school-aged children of the signs, 
symptoms and dangers of huffing. 

"Last Breath" offers an eye— opening look at the 
devastating long term and often fatal effects of one of 
America's fastest growing drug problems . 

"The one time that they do it or try it could be their 
last time, " said Milch, who is a Navy Mortician. "Then, 
they would be in my hands". 


Headline: Portsmouth improves access to better assist 

By Lt . M. Hernandez, MSC, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth 

PORTSMOUTH, Va . — It ' s a question every Military 
Treatment Facility deals with. "How can our beneficiaries be 
better served?" One way is by reaching out to 
beneficiaries where they are. Doing so may not be easy, but 
at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, it is how business is 
conducted these days. 

Through the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery's and the 
TRICARE Customer Advocacy Program 's initiative. Naval 
Medical Center Portsmouth established four very successful 
TRICARE Assistance Centers (TAC) . These centers, which are 
located in Navy Exchanges throughout the Virginia Tidewater 
area, provide beneficiaries convenience when using their 
TRICARE medical plan. 

The TAC is an example of improving access and thinking of 
the customer first . While a family or spouse is shopping at 
the exchange, health care concerns can also be addressed. 
Perhaps all that is needed is an explanation about where and 
how to enroll with TRICARE, or how TRICARE portability 
works . 

A TAC can also provide enrollment status verification or 
allow members to make a primary care appointment or 
accomplish primary care manager changes. 

"Having a TRICARE Assistance Center within the Navy 
Exchange is ideal . We are reaching our beneficiaries where 
it is convenient for them. We offer a more relaxed 
atmosphere for helping our beneficiaries while saving them 
time, " said Health Benefits Advisor Margie Garrett. 

Tidewater beneficiaries are excited about TACs and 
appreciate the way the Medical Center is trying to make a 
difference for them. Support for TACs from all levels has 
been tremendous. Thanks to the Navy Exchange and the space 
they provided, the Medical Center was able to set up and 
fully equip each TAC and staff them with the most 
experienced Health Benefits Advisors in the business. 

Health Benefit Advisor Cathy Lewis, who works in the 
largest TAC located in the world's largest Navy Exchange 
said, "When I get a warm smile along with a sincere thank 
you, it makes being here for our beneficiaries and what I do 
all worth while. " 


Headline: Making the rounds while Green 

By Doug Sayers, Naval Medical Center San Diego 

SAN DIEGO — He can be seen every morning with clipboard 
in hand, making his way through the crowded courtyard on his 
way to visit "his" patients . Nurses and Corpsmen greet him 
as he makes his rounds and walks the passageways with 
practiced familiarity, but this territory is somewhat 
foreign to a war fighter. 

He is Staff Sgt . Gary Gustafson, the Marine Corps liaison 
at Naval Medical Center San Diego. The patients he visits 
are Marines who have been admitted to the Medical Center for 
treatment . 

While officially touted as "the Navy— Marine Corps Team, " 
differences do exist between the two sister services. There 
are different ranks, different commands and different 
uniforms — and sometimes, a different language. Gustafson 
bridges the gaps, providing information coordination between 
the Navy medical staff and active duty Marines, their family 
members and some retired Marines. 

"I make sure the paperwork gets done quickly. I provide 
immediate, personal attention for Marines who become 
hospitalized, which is a vital component of the Marine Corps 
standard of 'taking care of our own, ' " said Gustafson . 

Visiting the wards and tackling paperwork are only part 
of the picture. As Marine liaison, Gustafson must also 
conduct barracks inspections to ensure cleanliness. 

facilitate temporary duty paperwork, monitor Marine medical 
evacuations and assist Naval Medical Center San Diego 's 
staff by providing administrative support for Physical 
Evaluation Boards and Limited Duty Boards. 

Accountability is a word that pops up often in 
Gustafson's conversations. He says he is accountable for 
ensuring Marines hospitalized an Naval Medical Center San 
Diego are taken care of and their individual commands are 
kept informed and aware. He is accountable for his charges 
in everything but direct hands on patient care. The 
patients are, after all, members of the Marine Corps family. 


Headline: Getting glasses becomes easier at Bremerton 
By Judith Robertson, Naval Hospital Bremerton 

BREMERTON, Wash. — Military personnel are busy people. 
The last thing they need is a long wait on service that 
improves their ability to see. That was the thinking behind 
consolidating the Optometry Clinic to the Optical Shop at 
the Naval Hospital and thereby creating a one-hour, one-stop 
eye glasses shopping experience for active duty personnel. 

"This is very unique in military medicine, " said Cmdr. 
Ricky Toyama, MSC, head. Optometry Dept. "There are only so 
many optical labs in the military anyway and many aren 't 
anywhere near the docs. " 

"After people have their eyes examined, they now don 't 
have to get back in the car and go to find the optical lab. 
It is very convenient now, " Toyama said. "Being co-located 
with the Optical Shop has an added benefit also, the 
Optician can assure the fit is perfect . " 

The new fast-track process has gone through its shakedown 
and is functioning well, according to optometrist Lt . Joseph 
Trull, MSC. 

"In most cases our active duty patients can come in for 
their eye exams and walk out with glasses in under an hour, " 
he said. 

Active duty personnel have priority at all times, and 
they also have the option of 'frames of choice, ' which 
gives them a variety of frame styles to choose from. 

"Retirees can also get glasses made, but they may have to 
make a second trip, depending on volume, and they are 
limited to one frame, the standard— issue dark brown style, " 
Trull said. 

Family members may get eye exams at the clinic, but they 
must get their glasses made elsewhere . 

The new clinic provides convenience for all concerned, 
and its new location is being publicized locally so everyone 
can take advantage of this new service. 


Headline: Portsmouth accredited by College of American 

By Cmdr. K.L. Nawn, MC, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth 

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — Naval Medical Center Portsmouth has 

been awarded accreditation through September 2001 by the 
College of American Pathologists ' (CAP) Commission on 
Laboratory Accreditation based on the results of a onsite 
inspection conducted September 1999 in the Laboratory 
Medicine Department . 

CAP reviews all aspects of laboratory medicine including 
performance improvement, quality control, adequacy of 
facilities, quality of laboratory services provided, safety, 
staff qualifications and education, and equipment . 

CAP is a medical society serving the laboratory community 
throughout the world and is a leader in laboratory quality 
assurance and accreditation. The CAP Laboratory 
Accreditation Program, which began in the early 1960 ' s, was 
a pioneer in health care accreditation. 

This was the first CAP inspection for NMCP since moving 
into the Charette Health Care Center. 


Headline: Anthrax question and answer 
>From Bureau of Medicine and Surgery 


Question: Since we have known about the anthrax threat 
for years, why implement this program now? 

Answer: During the 1990s, countries hostile to the United 
States increased their capability to weaponize and deliver 
anthrax. Terrorist organizations sympathetic to our 
potential adversaries have become more active. 
Additionally, advancement in weapon delivery systems 
increased the capability of many countries that previously 
did not possess the technology to pose a serious threat . 
These factors led to the decision to protect the force with 
anthrax vaccine. 

For more anthrax information visit the website at 
http: //www. 


Headline: TRICASE question and answer 
>From Bureau of Medicine and Surgery 

Question: How can I enroll in TRICARE Prime? 

Answer: If you are on active duty you will be enrolled in 
TRICARE Prime and assigned a Primary Care Manager . Other 
categories of beneficiaries can enroll on a voluntary basis 
either by visiting or calling the local TRICARE Service 
Center and completing an enrollment application . For more 
TRICARE information visit the website at 


Headline: Healthwatch: West Point, Colorado walks among best 
in U.S. 

By Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service 

WASHINGTON — Volksmarching clubs at West Point, N.Y., 
and Colorado Springs, Colo., sponsored year-round walks 
voted among the nation's best last year by members of the 
American Volksporting Association. 

The 70 , 000— member association is the sport's U.S. 

sanctioning body. Both the Volksport Club of West Point and 
the Falcon Wanderers in Colorado Springs have large numbers 
of service members on their rolls. 

The West Point volksmarch takes participants all over the 
U.S. Military Academy campus. The Colorado Springs 
volksmarch focuses on the Garden of the Gods Park. 

Volksmarching was brought to America largely by service 
members who received their first taste of the sport in 
Germany. Participants earn medals, pins, patches, steins or 
other souvenirs for completing noncompetitive walks over 
measured courses. There are two types of volksmarch in the 
United States. 

The first is based on the European model and scheduled 
typically over one weekend. The second is the year-round or 
seasonal volksmarch. On these, local clubs measure their 
course, usually 10 kilometers, and designate a starting 
point. Walkers can do these walks any time during the year. 

Association members voted the year— round volksmarch at 
Mackinac Island, Mich., as the nation's best last year. The 
march takes walkers past the historic sights of the island, 
located between the two peninsulas that make up Michigan. 

The top 10 year-round events in 1999 were: 

1. Mackinac Island, Mich. 

2. Midtown Manhattan 

3. Central Park, New York City 

4. Fumee Lake, Mich. 

5. Georgetown, Washington, D.C. 

6. Kennebunk, Maine 

7. Iron Mountain, Mich. 

8. The National Mall, Washington, D.C. 

9. West Point, N.Y. 

10. Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, Colo. 

To find the starting points for these walks, visit the 
American Volksporting Association Web site at 
for links to local clubs and a listing of scheduled 
volksmarches . 


Comments about and ideas for MEDNEWS are welcome. Story 
submissions are encouraged. Contact MEDNEWS editor. Earl W. 
Hicks, at email:; Telephone 202/762— 
3223, (DSN) 762-3223, or fax 202/762-3224.